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By the time of the Star Wars films almost every species has access to space travel and faster-than-light technology. Has it ever been mentioned where this came from, did a specific species go out and teach other species it came across, did several species discover it at around the same time?

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    How did space travel spread through the galaxy? Probably via space travel. – Paul D. Waite Jun 14 at 11:42
  • Probably the same way that automobile travel has spread on Earth. – RonJohn Jun 15 at 3:04
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    @PaulD.Waite Well, it was a long time ago... – Machavity Jun 15 at 18:30
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Canon

The purrgil were whale-like creatures that were naturally capable of entering hyperspace, and observation of these creatures inspired the development of the first hyperdrives. However, it's not clear exactly who developed the first hyperdrives or how the technology spread throughout the galaxy. It's likely the case that one or possibly a few civilizations invented the hyperdrive and then spread the technology to other civilizations as they used it to explore the galaxy.

Legends

The species most responsible for the spread of faster-than-light travel was probably the Rakata. Their hyperdrives were Force-powered and inspired by the Kwa species, but in creating their Infinite Empire the Rakata conquered many of the most important worlds of the galaxy (such as Coruscant, Corellia, the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk, Tatooine, Dantooine, Manaan, etc.). When the Infinite Empire fell, some of the subject species were able to modify the Rakatan hyperdrive so that it no longer required the Force to operate. Space travel as we know it from the Star Wars films was possible at this point with star systems' connections from the fallen Infinite Empire and the means to travel faster-than-light and without the Force.

6

Since the Old Republic is said to have existed for a thousand generations, the invention of space travel/FTL should be so far in the past that probably no one knows or even is interested in, perhaps it was discovered independently on several worlds by different species.
Perhaps similar to the question when and where in Terran history the wheel was invented and how it spread its way across the world.

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    "The wheel was invented in Russia" - Pavel Chekov ☺ – Paulie_D Jun 14 at 12:21
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    LOL - I also remember a dispute between Chekov and Scotti about whether Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me was a Scottish or a Russian proverb. Seems Chekov is a bit possessive when it comes to claiming credit for inventions to his people :-) – Volker Landgraf Jun 14 at 13:13
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    The wheel is bit different. I can imagine a single person coming up with the wheel by themselves, but it's harder to imagine a single person coming up with FTL. – Acccumulation Jun 14 at 15:00
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    @Ryan_L You've obviously not seen a hyperdrive in real life – Peter M Jun 15 at 19:12
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    @Ryan_L: many inventions are simple once they've already been invented. A simple wheel requires a pretty good amount of crafting to make work, and also is not very useful unless you have flat land to roll around on. – whatsisname Jun 17 at 3:04

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